In 2009, the Rev. Shane Deman completed seminary studies in Rome.
The newly ordained Catholic priest received his first parish assignment from Bishop R. Walker Nickless: Holy Trinity in Webster County.
"I Fed-Exed my boxes to Fort Dodge and started that summer," said Deman, a Sioux City native.
Now, four years later, Deman is about to replicate his transoceanic journey in reverse.
Deman will return to Rome in July for a new course of study.
"Bishop Nickless asked if I would be willing to head back to school to complete doctoral studies in theology," he said.
Deman, until recently the youngest priest in the Sioux City Diocese, has been requested by Nickless to focus on developing new means to bring the message of the gospel into the 21st century.
"The idea is to call people back who have drifted away from the faith," he said.
Modern American society is heavily driven by science and technology - often at the expense of religious practice, Deman said.
Deman's dissertation will likely focus on how such themes can coexist, he said.
His course of study will likely keep him aboard for two years - during which time Deman will remain a Diocesan priest. A native of Sioux City, Deman will likely be assigned to a different parish assignment upon his return.
According to Deman, the Sioux City diocese has a strong tradition of encouraging its priests to pursue higher education.
"Thirty to 40 years ago, most priests would go back for their master's degrees and often become teachers and administrators within the Catholic schools," he said.
Though most such positions are no longer filled by clergy, many priests still play pivotal roles in diocesan schools.
That includes Deman, who has served as chaplain of St. Edmond School since beginning his assignment in Webster County.
"When I arrived, Monsignor McCoy and I discussed where the needs were in the parish," said Deman, referring to Monsignor Kevin McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity.
Shortly thereafter, parish offices were moved from the former Holy Rosary Church in Fort Dodge to the St. Edmond campus - which, according to Deman, has allowed for greater opportunities for the parish priests to work with students.
"I've been able to teach church history classes to high schoolers and visit the other grade levels," he said.
These interactions are among the things he will miss about leaving Holy Trinity, he said.
"My time here has been a very blessed time for me," he said. "I'm very grateful to the people in the community."
A farewell reception for Deman will be held June 23 from 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m. at the Corpus Christi Parish Center.